We buy feelings, not things.

Everyone buys things, even minimalists. Knowing why we buy will help us make better decisions and keep us from feeling buyers remorse.



We buy feelings, not things. Think about it. We don’t buy things because we want things. We buy things because we want the feeling the thing will give us.


For example, when I buy a dress – I’m not just buying a dress. I am buying a dress because I want to feel beautiful. My mom yearns for the feeling of living in a clean and tidy home and so she went out and buys organizers. When my friend upgraded to the latest iPhone again this year, she wanted to feel part of the in-crowd.


I’ll stick to my example of a dress for the rest of the article for consistency but, feel free to imagine your favorite things – art, kitchen appliances, smartwatch, decor etc. Why do we buy things? Why did I buy the dress? I’m not a spendthrift or a shopaholic so clearly, I must’ve bought the dress because I needed it. But let’s go a bit deeper into purchase behavior & ask if a piece of clothing is all I needed, why did I buy this specific dress? Why this specific color? Why this cut & design? Why not any other from the available options? Answer: I bought it because it made me feel like a million bucks when I wear it. Does that imply that didn’t feel beautiful without the dress? No. Maybe. Maybe not. Depends. LOL! Even if I didn’t feel ugly the day I bought the dress, I may have bought the dress for the day when I might feel ugly. The dress is kind of ‘ugly insurance’ if you will, for a day when I may need cheering up. Seriously, try this with any of your favorite purchases and you will come up with similar answers.


Modern day consumption is intended to make us buy things to fill the void in our lives, mostly emotional. That’s how modern marketing works. Marketing makes us believe that buying things will give us of feelings we want more of (or have less of) in our lives. Don’t believe me? Take any commercial? Jewelry commercials sell elegance, beer commercials sell camaraderie, most commercials sell sex, lots of sex, because people are lonely. Unknowingly, we buy into these tricks. We start believing that buying a particular brand will make us less lonely, appear smart, look elegant etc. The act of purchasing a product also triggers a dopamine high (a feel-good hormone) which makes us feel great. But when the dopamine high wears off, you’re right where you started and you need to buy more to feel good again.


The truth is that no ‘thing’ can ever make us feel good. We can make us feel good. Experiencing moments of solitude, true friendship, small acts of kindness and shared love can make us feel good. Things can’t give us that. Agree? Comment below with reasons why you buy.


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